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Something rotten at the Reader?

“I personally feel my integrity and democracy attacked”

Steffen: “I said, ‘I’m not just going to sit on a couch and do nothing, because if I do that, I’ve failed.’"
Steffen: “I said, ‘I’m not just going to sit on a couch and do nothing, because if I do that, I’ve failed.’"

We get letters! A longtime Reader reader wrote in a couple weeks back to complain that “The Reader is now spinning Republican shit on your [our?] newly [duly?] elected governor Gavin Newsom… the man we the people elected.” The author ended by saying, “I personally feel my integrity and democracy attacked in reading your rotting paper.” The weird thing is, the letter referred to a gag bit that imagined former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s opening salvo in his deadly serious bid for Newsom’s job. Faulconer is a Republican. Oughtn’t he to sound like one?

I thought about that letter when I spotted a “Recall Gavin Newsom” yard sign sharing territory with a sign urging me to Vote Libertarian. I thought about it again when I chuckled at the banner decorating The Waterfront’s outdoor dining area down on Kettner (“Get in here now before Gavin changes his mind!”) and when I paused before the recall podium outside Brothers Restaurant in Allied Gardens. “Save my business, recall Gavin Newsom,” the flyer read. “Please come in to sign.” And I thought about it yet again while listening to a talk by an attorney from the local firm that got the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on indoor worship on the grounds that it violated first-amendment rights.

Bumper sticker

Republican shit? I dunno. Sure, Republicans would love to see Newsom go, but what about the Libertarians, the bar and restaurant owners, the largely Latino congregation down at South Bay Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista that just wants to go to church on Sunday? Couldn’t support for the recall just be the cry of the little guy? Someone tired of waiting — for a vaccine, for reopening, for assistance — who feels like the man at the top isn’t getting the job done?

That’s what came through when I was talking to Jeannie Steffen as she collected signatures for Newsom’s recall in the parking lot outside Lowe’s in Santee. Steffen is definitely Republican. But when she talked about Newsom, she talked about small businesses shutting down and opening up and then shutting down again, about the damage done to kids by prolonged school closures. She talked about his rules-for-thee-but-not-for-me attendance at that French Laundry dinner party when he was telling everyone else to stay home, about his wineries that stayed open while breweries were closed.

Yes, there’s plenty to argue with in all that. But perhaps also something to consider. And what she’s doing isn’t attacking democracy; it is democracy. The recall isn’t an insurrection. It’s a legal mechanism for political course correction. Steffen feels like her interests are being ignored and is pursuing legitimate means to get them addressed — like a citizen. As she put it, “I said to myself, ‘I am not going to just sit on the couch and do nothing, because if I do that, then I have failed.’”

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Steffen: “I said, ‘I’m not just going to sit on a couch and do nothing, because if I do that, I’ve failed.’"
Steffen: “I said, ‘I’m not just going to sit on a couch and do nothing, because if I do that, I’ve failed.’"

We get letters! A longtime Reader reader wrote in a couple weeks back to complain that “The Reader is now spinning Republican shit on your [our?] newly [duly?] elected governor Gavin Newsom… the man we the people elected.” The author ended by saying, “I personally feel my integrity and democracy attacked in reading your rotting paper.” The weird thing is, the letter referred to a gag bit that imagined former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s opening salvo in his deadly serious bid for Newsom’s job. Faulconer is a Republican. Oughtn’t he to sound like one?

I thought about that letter when I spotted a “Recall Gavin Newsom” yard sign sharing territory with a sign urging me to Vote Libertarian. I thought about it again when I chuckled at the banner decorating The Waterfront’s outdoor dining area down on Kettner (“Get in here now before Gavin changes his mind!”) and when I paused before the recall podium outside Brothers Restaurant in Allied Gardens. “Save my business, recall Gavin Newsom,” the flyer read. “Please come in to sign.” And I thought about it yet again while listening to a talk by an attorney from the local firm that got the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on indoor worship on the grounds that it violated first-amendment rights.

Bumper sticker

Republican shit? I dunno. Sure, Republicans would love to see Newsom go, but what about the Libertarians, the bar and restaurant owners, the largely Latino congregation down at South Bay Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista that just wants to go to church on Sunday? Couldn’t support for the recall just be the cry of the little guy? Someone tired of waiting — for a vaccine, for reopening, for assistance — who feels like the man at the top isn’t getting the job done?

That’s what came through when I was talking to Jeannie Steffen as she collected signatures for Newsom’s recall in the parking lot outside Lowe’s in Santee. Steffen is definitely Republican. But when she talked about Newsom, she talked about small businesses shutting down and opening up and then shutting down again, about the damage done to kids by prolonged school closures. She talked about his rules-for-thee-but-not-for-me attendance at that French Laundry dinner party when he was telling everyone else to stay home, about his wineries that stayed open while breweries were closed.

Yes, there’s plenty to argue with in all that. But perhaps also something to consider. And what she’s doing isn’t attacking democracy; it is democracy. The recall isn’t an insurrection. It’s a legal mechanism for political course correction. Steffen feels like her interests are being ignored and is pursuing legitimate means to get them addressed — like a citizen. As she put it, “I said to myself, ‘I am not going to just sit on the couch and do nothing, because if I do that, then I have failed.’”

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